Crowds showed up at Golden Glide Roller Skating rink this past weekend to say goodbye to what had been a DeKalb County institution for decades.
News of the closing circulated on social media last week, prompting an outpouring of memories from locals who grew up attending events at the venue. But the throng of teenagers — estimated at over 1,000 — who showed up for teen night on Saturday, quickly got out of hand.
Teens and adults who attended that night reported threats of violence inside the rink. Things got so bad, local authorities shut the celebration down, leaving hordes of young people hanging out on Wesley Chapel Road and in some cases, causing trouble at businesses in the area.
On Sunday, however, the atmosphere looked a bit more tame.
Local street photographer, Jonathan Walker, 35, grew up in Southwest Atlanta where roller rinks like Cascade Family Center and Sparkles ruled, but on Sunday he made the trek to Decatur to document the last ride at Golden Glide.
“This was my first and last time at Golden Glide,” he said. “Mostly I just wanted to do this as a gift to the city because there is strong cultural movement here. Skating is a big thing in Atlanta culture.”
Skaters from ages 16 to 60 waited about 20 minutes to enter the rink on Sunday, and while it was crowded it wasn’t unruly.
“You saw people who had been coming there for years and years, old cats that I’m sure were hurting the next day,” said Walker. There were the requisite dance-offs, skate battles and even a few celebrity appearances, he said.
“It was a proper ATL sendoff,” said Walker. “It is hard to believe these things that make Atlanta, Atlanta are dying and going away. The things we grew up with, the things that make Atlanta great, we are starting to lose one by one. I like documenting Atlanta culture because there is no place out there that really does it like we do here.”
Here are some of Walker’s photos of the last day at Golden Glide (at least under its current management). To see more of Walker’s images documenting Atlanta street culture visit him on Instagram @wakkagram.